The reduced income of the Greek Orthodox Church due to the crisis led Archbishop Yeronimos to Qatar. There, the head of the church held a number of meetings to find partnerships and investments for the use of church property.
According to unnamed church sources, one of the topics, which the Archbishop has examined with his interlocutors in Qatar, was investments. Currently, the head of the Greek Church does not want to make official statements on his journey to Qatar, because he would like first to inform the members of the permanent church synod, which will meet next Tuesday. Business sources argue that they from Qatar have shown interest in extracting marble from properties belonging to the Church.
One of the "sacred" projects with which the Church intends to increase its income is investment in renewable energy sources and in particular, photovoltaic parks. The reason for this lies in the fact that it owns large areas in Greece, which are considered fully suitable for such installations.
The program will be piloted with the installation of a photovoltaic park in a property belonging to the monastery in Pendeli near Athens. At the same time, the central economic department of the Greek Church is studying the properties where photovoltaic parks could be installed. A similar study is being made on the extraction of marble. This could happen in Pendeli, but by using "modern underground methods, and not in the old ways harmful to the environment and the area," said sources from the economic department of the Church to Ta Nea newspaper.
The efforts of the archbishop and the church to find income in times of crisis do not stop here. The economic team is seeking other ways to increase the income and the goal is, as Archbishop Yeronimos often says "to increase the charitable activity of the Church, and to provide support for the development of Greece."
"In the hard times we are living, we are willing the Church to be able to respond to the needs of as many suffering people as it could," said the head of the economic department Archimandrite Andonos Avramiotis.
One of its main objectives is to maximize income from rented church property. To date, the headquarters of the Church owns 486 properties, including offices, flats and commercial buildings in Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. However, approximately 127 properties are without tenants. Seventy-three of them are located in Athens and fifty-four are in Thessaloniki.
Following the example of many property owners who lowered the rents because of the crisis, the Church is trying to attract tenants in the same way. The economic department, in turn, is trying to repair the wiring and the external appearance of the buildings, but "in a more economical way, because the crisis does not allow to incur high costs." Such repairs are expected to take place in a church property that is centrally located in Athens, behind the Hilton Hotel.
According to the economic department of the church, the most problematic are the large properties, which have no tenants and remain unused. An example is the building on Mitropoleos Street in downtown Athens, which until 2006, housed the Ministry of Education. For it, the state paid rent to the Church in the amount of € 791,592. Now, the 10-floor building with total area of seven thousand square metres is empty, although it is located in the heart of Athens and after at least three unsuccessful contests. According to sources from the economic department of the Church, however, there is significant interest, both from local and foreign investors. Some of the offers made are for turning the building into a hotel, office building or for multifunctional use.
It is worth noting that while any unemployed Greek owning a small flat is obliged to pay an extra tax on it, the Greek Ministry of Finance has not imposed a similar tax on the vast church properties. Priests are also frequent victims of attacks by people who are irritated by the fact that church functionaries fall into the category of civil servants and receive their salaries from the state budget and not from church funds.